Two Questions for Journalist

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 10 21:53:22 UTC 2013

The use the journalist made of my help can be seen in her splendid article in the New York Times:

I agree that Nathaniel Sharpe's material on "scalawag" would have been a splendid answer to question #2.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of George Thompson [george.thompson at]
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 10:13 PM
Subject: Re: Two Questions for Journalist

So, Fred, what were your answers to these questions?  And do you know what
use she has made of your help?

The material recently shared with us about "scallywag" would have been a
splendid answer to question #2.


On Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at>wrote:

> What are examples in recent times of important discoveries about etymology
> or word-origins or phrase-origins or quotation-origins being made "the
> old-fashioned way," i.e., using methods other than searching online
> databases?
> Now that "O.K." and arguably "the whole nine yards" have had their
> derivations uncovered, what are the other most significant or most
> interesting words or phrases with mysterious etymologies?


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

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